What is a prototype?
Prototype refers to the initial appearance of a product. “Initial appearance” is not well-defined. Sometimes it is very close to the finished product, sometimes it looks well-developed but has only a few functions, and sometimes the function is complete but the interface has not been optimized. It’s actually case by case and varies by circumstance.
Why we need a prototype?
- With prototype we would be able to demonstrate more specific things, and favor further internal or external discussions. What is visible always works better than words alone.
- By showing prototype to users, we can get more real, correct user feedback.
- The process of making Prototype would get us more information or prove a certain technology to be worthwhile.
- The cost of making Prototype is lower, thus reducing risk and helping with risk assessment.
For example, let’s suppose you have an idea for developing an app. After the assessment, if you want to complete the product (app), it requires at least five people and more than one year time. In this case, you can do Prototype and have the core functions. The simple picture does not matter; maybe by only one or two people in three months of time this can be done. During the process, you can get more information, such as their own ability or technical difficulty. After making Prototype, you can get the correct market feedback, thus realizing the valuation does not warrant continuing. But also, products can be amended and improved so as to make the chance of success even greater. In addition, it is very important to point out that when there are more specific things to show, there is a chance to find an angel investor for discussion. (In general, investors basically refuse to invest if they can’t see what they’re being asked to back financially.) Therefore, considering the many advantages of the above, the importance of the Prototype concept is undeniable.
Garage entrepreneurship is a concept of prototype
We often hear of businesses beginning in garages (think: Apple, Google, and Microsoft), but why is this? Because even if the founders of a business are geniuses, they often possess limited funds and must take great risks. With such uncertainty, it can be difficult to find financial support, especially at the concept stage. Venture capital investment is critical but hard to come by. An inventor’s or creator’s faith in his own product is insufficient; market feedback is required from users, consumers, and customers. Still, feedback from customers can be vague or even incorrect, which is why Prototype is so important. It allows would-be users to see something real and tangible, allowing them to formulate more accurate and field-tested impressions.
So too can this kind of input reinforce your decisions and strategies as the creator. You rely on these data to shape your future moves in the marketplace. Relying on actual evidence from consumers can help forge your business plan and situate you to gain the favor of investors.
Finally, from the perspective of risk and cost, market feedback can help you to accurately assess the longterm viability of the product. Realizing early on that an idea is likely to fail can help to minimize losses, allowing those involved to move on to the next idea.
Facebook, for example, was created in a school dormitory by Mark Zuckerberg, in his effort to impress a girl. No one thought it was going to work, but he created a Prototype, got attention for the product from the right demographic, created some buzz, and eventually attracted venture capital support for his software that is now used by more than one billion people.
Is it just fine giving the program to an engineer in the early days of the business?
Some people think the idea is very important and write the program to the engineer. Such a view is not wrong at all levels. However, taking into account the actual situation and the implementation of the early days of entrepreneurship, you will understand why many technology founders not only have ideas but also their own practice. Most of their time is spent validating Prototype ideas and basing their decisions on feedback received. They may wait until the prototype proves to be feasible—and then only to expand the team, the founder may no longer write a program, but instead write the program to the engineer to do a more detailed division of labor. If you want to start a team to get ideas right from the start, unless you’re experienced and your pocket is deep, people will not be inclined to go along.